Actor Robert Downey Jr. at the "Iron Man 3" premiere in Paris. (Thibault Camus / Associated…)
The fight between Walt Disney Studios and movie theater chains over how to split revenue from ticket sales for the much-anticipated "Iron Man 3" is getting uglier.
On Tuesday, Regal Entertainment -- the nation's largest theater owner with 7,000 screens in 540 locations -- yanked standees, movie posters and other marketing materials for "Iron Man 3," said a source familiar with the dispute who asked not to be identified.
The dispute has put a cloud over what is expected to be one of the biggest movies of the year. "Iron Man 3" premieres May 3 and Disney is holding a star-studded premiere Wednesday night for the film in Hollywood.
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Last week, Regal and AMC Entertainment decided to stop selling advance tickets for "Iron Man 3," contending that Disney was seeking an excessively large take of the box office revenue -- up to 65%.
Cinemark, the nation's third-largest chain, also is not selling advance tickets for "Iron Man 3," according to a review of online ticketing service Fandango.
The demand for a bigger cut is not just for "Iron Man 3." Disney also wants better terms on other movies as well. Studios typically collect 50% to 55% of ticket sales, depending on the movie.
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Although Disney has declined to comment on the dispute, studio executives contend Disney is justified in seeking improved revenue splits to offset the rising cost of making movies. Its contract with exhibitors has remain unchanged for seven years, during which the company has made significant investments in acquiring and developing new properties from Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm.
But theater executives maintain that Disney's demands are untenable. AMC's Chief Executive Gerry Lopez told The Times during the CinemaCon convention last week that Disney's stance "puts us in a very, very uncomfortable situation."
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